Join Date: Jul 2002
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How much is too much?
Mike & Rose:
To answer your question directly, you are IMO clearly heading in the wrong direction.
First, charter boats are purchased by their operators for use in restricted, usually temperate cruising grounds, to offer max berthing, and are purchased with a firm eye on purchase price to make the financial side of the equation work. None of these criteria relate to your N Pacific cruising plans.
Second, a Beneteau design would not need to be ''underbuilt'' or built to a lesser standard to be found inadequate for the big seas and the heavy W''ly winds of the N Pacific or even Hawaiian waters. I would encourage you to look more closely at the general design and specs of some typical charter boats (ballast, keel form, windage, adequacy of the shaft support) even before you try to research the truly critical attributes like rudder assembly or bulkhead attachment, or functional liveaboard issues such as layouts, storage, and sea berths. Then compare these basic attributes with representative, well-found cruising boats. I think you''ll see some glaring differences that will raise questions of suitability in your mind.
Third, you seem to believe - like many others, and consistent with the heavy empahsis in magazine advertising - that the basic hull-deck monocoque structure (and it''s key structural add-ons, the rig and rudder) can be ''improved'' for offshore cruising by adding or updating systems. ''Systems'' might add to your comfort or convenience (or not...), but they don''t make a less capable cruising boat into a more capable one. One might as well put oversized knobby tires on a Toyata Corolla and calling it an offroad vehicle.
Fourth, big sloop rigs are hardly compatible with short-handed crews. These days, this is often compensated for by adding electric winches and furling systems. Note the comments above about systems vs. basic suitability, but also keep in mind that in heavier winds & seas, a furling system on a big sail that goes awry can present a truly threatening circumstance to a man/woman crew. This is very different than e.g. the watermaker failing to work with the tanks half full. Beyond this, your intended cruising grounds mandate a modest SA/D ratio.
Lastly - and I''m making a leap here, because the info you offer doesn''t justify this comment - it sounds to me that you lack experience in owning larger boats and therefore may seriously underestimate the impact of outfitting and then operating a larger yacht on your annual cruising budget. (I speak from some experience, as we''ve been cruising our current 13M boat for 5 years now and reckon it''s costing us perhaps twice the cost of our previous 11M boat). I think a resource you would find especially helpful in this regard is to read the section in Beth Leonard''s _Voyager''s Handbook_ on boat selection as it relates to one''s overall financial plan and specifically the impact on one''s ongoing operating expenses. (One of the things I respect most about Beth''s writing is that it seems to resonate equally with men and women).
For one annotated list of suitable offshore sailboats, prepared by a very seasoned bluewater sailor, you might want to look at www.mahina.com/cruise.html - John Neal has over 300,000 miles in the Pacific now and offers some thoughtful observations I think you''d find quite helpful.
In summary, don''t overestimate the value of a boat that is bigger vs. smaller; the equation is far more complex than that and size can work against you in more ways than for you.
Good luck with your plans. I hope you accept these comments in the spirit they are intended - to improve your eventual cruising experience - rather than to toss cold water on the plans themselves.
jack_patricia @ yahoo.com